How easy is it to make “wool” out of pet hair?

Not hard at all. The only thing you need is the right kind of pet.

So goldfish and budgies are right out.

The best pets are the fluffy ones – the ones that grow a decent undercoat in winter. Huskies are good, and so are long-hair cats like Maine Coons. Also, Angora bunnies, and some lionheads, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some guinea pigs and ferrets didn’t produce small, usable amounts of undercoat.

The fluff can be collected through normal grooming. Keep it in a clean, sealable plastic bag until you have enough. When you have about 100g/4oz, you can try removing the hairs from the fluff, wash (if you don’t like spinning “in the grease”) and card, and spin.

This first spinning effort will tell you whether the fluff is worth spinning on its own – some of it may be too short – or whether you’d be better combining it with a longer fibre, like wool or cotton.

Here’s some people who made clothing from their dogs’ hair:

Two women in dog-hair cardigans, with their dogs - a Tibetan mastiff and a husky. I think - I'm not great on dog breeds.
Aman in a cabled dog-hair sweater, with a large hairy mongrel (probably).
A woman in a dark-brown dog-hair gilet, with rough collie who is too light-coloured to be the dog-hair donor.
A man in a bright white Aran-style cabled cardigan, with a beautiful white husky.
A woman wearing a black stole which looks like Persian or Astrakhan  lambswool, but which clearly comes from her huge Royal poodle.

These People Are Wearing Sweaters Made From Their Dog’s Shed Hair

There’s even a company – Knit Your Dog – that will do the hard work for you, if you’re not crafty:

And a woman who works exclusive with dog har, and writes about it:

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The main problem with cat hair is there’s comparatively little of it. I’ve only really heard of people felting with cat hair:

Crafting with Cat Hair: Cute to Make with Your Cat

Angora bunnies produce Angora wool, that fluffy, soft stuff that makes gorgeous, expensive sweaters, so that’s pretty mainstream and commercial. However, here’s a video of a woman who keeps Angora rabbits (and poodles), showing the process of producing items from bunny to needle, which would be the same for any other animal fibre:

Quora linky.

What is extreme knitting?

Extreme knitting is knitting on very large needles: both very thick:

and very long:

One form of extreme knitting is giant knitting. This generally involves giant balls of giant wool:

This is used to make housewares, including mattresses and blankets:

rugs, futons, pouffes:

and, uh, clothing….

You can use these yarns for arm-knitting too, but that’s a different topic.

You can, of course, use these huge needles with finer yarns: it produces a lacier effect. Here’s a video showing how to knit your own hammock, suspended on giant needles:


The other main form of extreme knitting is multi-strand knitting. In this, multiple balls, skeins, hanks of yarn are worked together as one – again on the giant needles. Here’s Rachel John knitting a mattress with 1,000 yarns on a pair of sharpened trees:


A third form of extreme knitting gets very little press. Extreme miniature knitting:

A tiny Aran vest, resting in the centre of a woman's palm.

The image above is an Aran vest by Althea Crome, the designer for the movie Coraline. She produces 1:12 miniatures on 0.25mm diameter steel pins, using fine silk embroidery thread at around 3 stitches to the millimetre (80 sts/inch)!! OR LESS!!!

And know there are people working at smaller scales…

Quora linky.

How can I close the top of a hat by knitting instead of using a sewing needle?

It depends on the type of hat.

These are some hats that I’ve designed. All were knit from the bottom up and in the round, usually on double-pointed needles as that is my preference, but they could equally be knit on a circular needles.

The first row, and the last two on the right in the second row, involve reducing the number of stitches towards the end. The number of stitches at the end varies: Fluxions reduces to 6 stitches; Maquereau varies between 16 and 24 stitches according to head-size. For ‘reduction’ hats like these, the usual method* of finishing is to cut the yarn leaving a tail 6–10 cm long, thread the tail through the remaining stitches, cinch tight, and secure inside. The threading can be done with sewing (tapestry) needle, or you can use the knitting needles to ‘knit’ each of the stitches off, flicking the yarn tail through each.

Tiny Teddy and Shadow Pets have no reduction. The top of such hats could be sewn together using mattress stitch after binding off. However, the samples I worked for Tiny Teddy and Shadow Pets were closed using a 3-Needle Bind-Off** and an I-cord Bind-Off respectively. The instructions, iirc, were respectively Kitchener Stitch***, and mattress stitch with a separate i-cord sewn on afterwards.

These are two basic hat types. There are others – the ‘reducing’ hats can be worked top down, by increasing the number of stitches: this completely avoids having to sew/finish the hat. Some hat designers, like Woolly Wormhead, use very unusual construction methods which you just have to follow blindly, as it were: they WILL work, promise! Most patterns will give you reasonably detailed instructions for finishing, especially if it’s an unusual method.

If you’ve knitted a flat piece of knitting and want to turn it into a hat… the simplest way is to use mattress stitch. Sorry. You could crochet it together, too.

You’ll notice I give a lot of YouTube videos as examples. YouTube is a fantastic resource for knitters: you can generally find just about any knitting stitch, style, tip or technique there.


* – The pi hat (last on the right, bottom row) is completed by continuing the remaining stitches as an i-cord, to which the tassel is tied.

** – Ideal for ensuring your Pussy Hat’s ears stay perky.

*** – I personally recommend the knitted Kitchener stitch, as I only have Magic Disappearing tapestry needles. Also I hate sewing.

Quora linky.

An Afghan crochet pattern requires yarn that is quite expensive. How can I substitute with a less expensive yarn?

In addition to Yarnsub, you can look up the pattern on Ravelry. Click on ‘yarn ideas’ or ‘projects’ to see what other people have used to make this pattern.

This has the advantage that you can see what the pattern looks like made up in the different yarns, and read the crafters’ notes – some of which can be extremely helpful in making your choice.

Ultimately, the yarn you use will have an impact on the finished product. Cotton will make a heavy blanket, and may ‘grow’ when it’s washed. Acrylic can be soft and easy-care, but can look threadbare and thin after a few washes. Non-superwash wools can felt! You’ll need to swatch and launder to ensure you get the same gauge as the pattern and the feel you want – sometimes more than once.

Quora linky.

Hattata Flatatta

New finished project!
Well, new-ish. The Offspring year-end class project was on WWII, specifically the evacuation of children. The final day of the project involved them living as children being evacuated, beginning with them being delivered to the “evacuation centre” in the morning, in period costume, and being issued with their ration cards and gas mask (previously created in lessons).
The Offspring decided he needed me to knit him a proper flat cap, sooo…. He already has one, from Cheryl Andres’ Inishmore Cap pattern, but could we find it? So I made another, in some Aranweight natural Herdwick I have lying around. No biggie. He also wanted an authentic vest -preferrably Fair Isle, the picky varmint – but I said nay. I’m not making a Fair Isle vest in under a week. Instead I put him in his old Bam-bam vest (a modified Sherwood by Angela Hahn), banking on Aran-ish patterns being sufficiently common by the 1940s. I made this for him when he was about 4, but with added length in hopes it would last a while. He’s now 10 1/2, so it worked – although the collar is a bit on the tight side. It does look a bit skimpy, but we were going for the impoverished inner-city rapscallion look anyway. Ahem.
At the end of the day, parents were asked to collect their children (their own children, mind) in period costume as their evacuation foster parents. Now my wardrobe is severely lacking in utility frocks, but I looked up how to do Victory rolls in my hair. Sadly, I do not have 1940s hairspray either, so this was a bit of a flop. They just about stayed in at the front, so I wore a headscarf a al Rosie the Rivetter to cover the rest. My frilliest blouse, baggiest workman denims and wellies, and I was a Land Army gel! I thoroughly mortified the poor child by marching in as “Captain Bagshot”, checking teeth and muscles on the ‘malnourished city boys and gels’, and demanding to know what each of them knew about ploughing and calving before making my choice.
Asante sana Squash banana, as they say, or: My work as a mother is done…

Jiminy Crickets

Just knocked out two submissions, 4 ideas total, including photography (one hot model! sorry, he’s taken), all in a weekend. While on holiday, far from the bones of my ancestors, or, indeed, my faithful computer. Go me!

And I totally reworked the spreadsheets on another design. I’m pretty sure it’ll work this time. I’ve had to rip it out twice already, which HURT like a BITCH. For myself, I’d fudge it and make it work, but this is going to be beautifully photographed for posterity, so it has to be just so.

So make it so…

Now I’m watching Terminator for the 1008th time, and it’s only just dawned on me that Sarah Connor is making out with a guy more than 40 years younger than her. Who was born at least twenty years after she died. Way to get out of child maintenance payments…

Women Without Borders

There’s just something about this that sounds wrong. Can’t put my finger on it.

Anyway, I attended a networking meeting of the above group this morning, and am still hyper. It’s just plain nice to be able to get all gushy and emotional about my loves and dreams without anyone being all judgey pants. Everyone there was exactly as lala about their thing as I am! 

I might – might! be teaching again, through the Workers’ Education Alliance. Had a brief chat with the head of the local network, and gave her the details of the crafty things I could teach, and she seemed really enthusiastic. Me, I can’t really believe how happy I am to have the chance at some teaching again! I have so mssed being in the classroom. This won’t be the same, of course, but it’s close. Possibly I can expand into my maths tutoring ideas for parents as well. OTOH, I’d have to figure childcare out for the Mighty Offspring if I’m potentially teaching evening classes… Not fun. 

I also spoke to a woman who does media things. I had revealed my plans for the Irish wool industry (!) and she was really interested in the idea of promoting the remaining mills, most of which are still operating along traditional lines with original machinery. She also offered to do some promo work for me, which I’ll keep in mind – though when would I be ready for that?! I should have mentioned the health impacts that Stitchlinks is researching – she’d really have liked that. 

Lots of other convos, still buzzing 10 hours later, and I may have to re-read Colin Bateman’s Mohammed Maguire. Tried to describe it recently, but, erm. I suddenly realised I may not have understood it AT ALL…

What a difference a year makes.

AKA Tiny Husband is getting the chop…

It’s been almost exactly a year since my last post – more than that if we go back to my last crafting post. And life has changed.

For a start, I’m now half way through my teacher training, and a single mother. TH and I separated in July, initially to give ourselves a break while he sorted out some issues. Now, however, it looks like we won’t be getting back together, as TH – must find a more suitable acronym – has decided, in effect, that his problems are actually personality flaws on my part. But he doesn’t want a divorce, unless one of us wants to remarry.

We’ll be getting a divorce. It’s either over, or it’s not. I’m not having this hanging over me. I’m already pissed that I’m in this halfway house of being ‘unofficially’ separated. There is no way that I could put up with having to explain my whacko living arrangements and non-divorcee status for the rest of my life. And while we’re at it, I’ll be going back to my maiden name.

And so to our normal schedule: the remaining creations from 2009 –

And 2010 so far:

More later…